King Abdullah Financial District - Villas in the Sky in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects.

King Abdullah Financial District – Villas in the Sky



Designed to be the new center for Middle East trade and finance, the King Abdullah Financial District is a 1.6-million-square-meter mixed-use development consisting of 30 plots connected by a network of skywalks and green recreational spaces. Our work with Henning Larsen Architects includes the Crystal Towers, the Gem Buildings and Villas in the Sky, for which we are providing structural and building skin engineering services.

Parcel 2.13 is a 33-story tower named Villas in the Sky. The project consists of 13 floors of office with 12 floors of residential units above. It is crowned by a sky gym, spa and roof terrace.

The tower’s cladding solution seamlessly integrates the shifting floor plates at the upper levels and the saw-toothed profile of the façade design. The latter was devised to provide self-shading to the glazed elements and thereby minimize solar gains and radiation.

Our use of BIM on this project affords several benefits including speedier modeling of complex building geometries; easier coordination with design team members, leading the faster clash detection and resolution; and easy generation of 3D visualization of the structure for more effective client presentations. Other benefits of BIM consist of higher quality shop drawings, interoperability of design platforms and greater design flexibility.

The project received the Bentley Systems Award for Innovation in Generative Design.

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Our façade engineering teams advise clients on the best way to develop both conventional and innovative façade systems, applying our knowledge of structures, glazing technology, mechanical shade systems and thermal behavior. We provide design, detailing and engineering support for enclosures of any shape or size, from minimalist to high-tech. We also provide expertise in safety and security glazing, along with glass frits and reflective coatings.